Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby Stephendragonfly » Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:20 pm

I know that this has been said before but, it seems to me that this year the only workable solution is to not just make the tickets non transferable, but to further etch purchasers' names onto the tickets along with credit card info (or maybe even photos) to be matched at the door. (Yes, I read the ticket policies and have noted the stipulation in the contract that said policies can be changed by the organization) Perhaps (because we don't want to limit gifting of tickets) it could be made to work that the purchaser's name be on all of the tickets s/he purchased (max four) and that the purchaser be physically present at the gate with everyone s/he is getting into the event. Downsides, longer wait times to get in, more hassles over who gets what, and more planning to get the ticketed groups together. Upside, makes scalping more difficult, promotes family/friends, cooperation, and ride sharing.

A few modest suggestions for next year, in addition to named tickets, reserve a few (say 2000) tickets for the weekend of the burn only (three day tickets) and auction those off on Ebay with a high reserve. Set a decreasing fixed price scale for longer duration tickets (this ticket is only good for a Monday entrance, please call if you cannot make it in on Monday to make other arrangements). Set additional fees for the RVs and keep them at the outside perimeter unless specific need can be shown (handicaps, etc.). Encourage people to register their theme camps and art projects with Borg way in advance and give those people ticket priority if they can show plans for NEW art that they will be bringing to the playa.

Lastly, to those people who have had theme camps and art projects and are now in crisis because of the lack of tickets this year. Please don't stop working on your art just because you might not all be able to come to Burning Man. Bring it to a regional, or some other event, or create an event of your own. Grow, Evolve, Mutate.

Personally, I think it would be really cool to have my photo on my Burning Man ticket.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby bradtem » Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:01 pm

Non-transferable tickets are somewhat controversial. Whether they are truly useful depends on whether there are lots of speculators or not. There weren't many prior to 2010, the volume in 2011 was modest. I have yet to learn what is known about how many there are this year.

However, if you want to do no-transfer tickets, using the person's name is time consuming and somewhat more invasive of privacy. I believe the best no-transfer system works as follows:

a) When you buy, you provide a jpeg. The jpeg is typically of your face, though it can be a picture of your ID if you prefer, or even your car, if you are SURE you are coming to the playa in that car. Or your tattoos or genitals. If it's not of you, it has to be of something a scalper would never give you along with a ticket.
b) If you buy multiple tickets you can put different jpegs on them, or put the same jpeg on them -- in which case everybody has to arrive together.
c) Gate crew have portable devices (phone or tablet) pre-loaded with all the jpegs.
d) As you approach the gate, your ticket code is given to the gate crew. That could be you bringing a piece of paper they scan, or a number they key in, or your licence plate, or a code pre-transmitted over bluetooth or wifi as you approach the gate. The ticket code could be a number but it really can be anything, and can even be set just before you head to the playa, so that everybody in the car has the same code to speed up gate.
e) Once received, the phone/tablet displays the images. If it was your face, they look at you, and you're approved. There may be a search of your vehicle for stowaways and contraband.

Upload a jpeg systems are in use in a number of places, including Glastonbury. More commonly they are used on badges that let people move about and be verified many times, but they can be used for just a gate entry. Other places always use the face. For one-time use you can allow other things, though they are slightly slower than the face, so it's a trade-off against the fun the community would have photographing and showing other areas of their body. Spoilsports would probably conclude the speed and regularity of requiring the face make it mandatory.

This system can actually be a lot faster than the paper ticket system. There is no will-call in such a system, even for a ticket bought in late August, not that such tickets exist any more. If bluetooth sync is done, the process could literally be done with a california rolling stop if search was not required when the tickets are all keyed to the driver's face. Not sure we would ever get there but it's interesting to imagine what's possible. That's because the gate tablet would display the driver's face and say "3 tickets" and all the gate would have to do, if not searching this vehicle, was confirm that there were 3 people in it as it rolled by.

-----

It also opens up an unusual way to allow limited resale. In a limited resale system, those arriving together bind their tickets together on the same code. The driver's face is used, so the other tickets in the car could be tickets that were resold, including bought from a scalper. The driver would be the only one with a never-resold ticket. This of course does allow scalping, but adds a small barrier -- the buyer must ride in with somebody else (though it might be their car.) The driver thus must be cool with riding with people who bought from scalpers. Some would be, some would not -- so it puts a damper on scalping but does not eliminate it, while it eases inter-camp exchange. I don't yet know if this would work or not, I am just musing about it.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby bradtem » Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:32 pm

Actually, I should add that prohibition on transfer actually opens up a lot of other possible systems, including restrictions on transfer.

The airlines are of course masters of the non-transferable ticket and making sure each passenger pays a different price. But in the process, they have developed some interesting systems and pay their economists a lot to make them efficient.

It's generally proposed that for non-transferable tickets that one can get a refund, returning the ticket to the org to sell to another burner. But what if that were not true? What if you only got a partial refund, for example, so that you were out $75 if you bought a ticket and returned it?

In this case, a lot fewer people would have entered the lottery multiple times in order to make sure they got enough tickets. There is some cancellation charge at which few would buy unless they were very serious about going themselves, the question is how high that has to be? As we know from the airlines, fully refundable tickets are worth more than tickets with refund restrictions or prohibitions. (Sometimes a lot more.) What if a fully refundable ticket had cost $500 in the main sale, and a non-refundable had cost $300 and a ticket with a $75 cancel charge cost $400, for example? What tickets would people have bought? Would camps have ordered tons extra just in case? Probably not.

What if, instead of a refund, all you could get was a credit or a ticket for next year's Burning Man? (Again, that's what airlines do on many tickets.) This would cause camps to over-buy since camps are confident they want tickets next year too, and actually gives too much of a reward for this behaviour. But what if you didn't get a full credit for next year, but a partial one -- would people over-subscribe then?

What if, instead, 20,000 lottery losers had gotten the first 20,000 tickets for BM 2013? Aside from the huge cash influx to the BMOrg, this would alter people's buying strategy a lot. (You would probably have to offer two prices, a higher one in which you only could win this year, and a lower one where you might win either year.)

And what if there were both transferable and non-transferable tickets? What if a non-transferable cost $250 but a transferable cost $450? Scalpers could still buy the transferables but with far less profit. Again, as they airlines have taught, people will pay extra for flexibility.

So I have to take back what I said about how having non-transferable tickets only serves to eliminate scalping. They enable a lot of other things. I'm not saying this is something to love by the way -- everybody hates the complexity of air tickets though they like the lower prices the restricted tickets have. It's just that our choices here are limited. The plain lottery didn't work, FCFS doesn't work, and burners are resistant to the use of pure auction markets as too capitalistic.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby robrob » Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:44 pm

Location: Silicon Valley


that explains the enginnering solutions for what is essentially a social problem

:mrgreen:
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby bradtem » Sat Feb 11, 2012 3:53 pm

robrob wrote:
Location: Silicon Valley


that explains the enginnering solutions for what is essentially a social problem

:mrgreen:


The use of technology to do non-transferable tickets is an engineering solution. The use of contractual terms and variable pricing for them is an economics solution -- economics is the study of social factors, value and money.

More particularly the real specialists in this are game theorists. In spite of the name, game theory isn't simply about games, but about these sorts of problems.

You can be dismissive and ignore all the ways that technology and engineering have vastly changed the way we interact socially and what our social problems are if you like. I would recommend another thread than one with the title "positive suggestions for fixing what is obviously broken," though.

The problems here are a mixture of social factors and markets and economics. You do yourself and your community a disservice if you discredit suggestions simply based on a field of study, or indeed, where the proposer happens to live right now.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby Stephendragonfly » Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:51 pm

Brad,
You raise some interesting points and have given me some things to think about.
But I still think having my photo on my Burning Man ticket would be cool.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby pink » Sat Feb 11, 2012 10:12 pm

HandJamMasterC wrote:
In order to thin the exodus jam, perhaps extend the burn one more day (soft close), and have one last burn Monday night to entice those who don't have tight schedules to stay until Tuesday. Perhaps some DPW/infrastructure dismantling could begin Monday (example: outer ring of porta-johns could begin clossure, LEO could begin reassignment) to save them some time.


Perhaps we could get the ticket cap raised if the BLM permit was modified so that pre-placed / registered theme camp operators could stay until Tuesday or Wed., which would lessen the traffic impact of people leaving on Sunday and Monday. There were I believe 20K people in early last year setting up theme camps. If just 10K could wait and leave later on Tuesday or Wed, should be able to justify 10K more tickets.

I think having a Monday night burn would help out Exodus. Because, NOTHING SAYS YOU CAN'T STAY UNTIL TUESDAY!!! Last year, after the big pile-up on I-80, BMIR was begging people to stay until Tuesday. Our camp had already planned on not striking fully until Tuesday morning, and after the warning on the radio we set out a sign saying 'refugee camp'. We attracted quite a few people who decided not to get in line and had an increadible Monday night with them. You want more Burning Man? You can easily have it.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby robrob » Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:25 pm

Here are thoughts of what's broken, and potentially positive steps than can affect change.

1) Ticketing; all functional aspects- sales, fulfillment, transfer, redemption... stop worrying about it. As has been discussed extensively here and elsewhere ever since the issues came on to the radar, there are tons of methods and tools to help manage this (and in the grand scheme of things, 50,000 isn't that huge of a number). Any number of event managers or ticketing people can handle the nuts and bolts, whether it's QR codes or Photos or names and ids- whatever. We can find someone that can do it while being sensitive to our communities standards and values.

I am guessing here, but when the org started the event, no one thought "What do we do with all of the poo?!" They didn't search forums and blogs looking for waste management tips and tricks. They hired a poo removal company and moved on. I see the act of selling and (e)mailing tickets as a similar basic infrastructure thing. I'd much rather energy be spent building culture and community than yet another weird homemade ticketing system that may or may not work. Just let someone else do it. Because, again IMO, the bigger problem is demand/scarcity.

How do we "fix" the fact we have less tickets than participants? Assume 70k people want 55k tickets. No matter what, 15,000 are going to be hurt/pissed/mad/sad/left behind. So the debate comes down to drawing that line. It can be "blind" and driven by policy manipulation, or subjective.

Can we do it by policy?

We can make it more expensive. That will thin the herd, but I think most agree this would be horrible. Plus god only knows how expensive it would have to get to knock out a big enough pool of participants.

We can make it less convenient. As some of suggested, close the gates Tuesday at 11:59pm. Would eliminate "weekenders" but possibly alienate others (remember though, 15k are gonnna get alienated regardless).

We can make it harder. No RVs. No Ice. No Coffee. Dial back the creature comforts until 15k people cry uncle.

Or we can make it subjective. Does one have to apply to go to Burning Man? Perhaps changing theme camp, MV, and art deadlines to be before ticketing might be a way to go? (someone still has to formalize the vet > n00b ratio). Could tickets be distributed through regionals? I dunno.

All those have drawbacks. IMO, a positive solution would be to use this to the event's advantage and encourage volunteering.

I know that the org doesn't want people volunteering "for the wrong reasons", but I also know they seem to always be asking for volunteers for exodus. Any one interested in gate (and based on the amount of time folks spend typing up ticketing proposals there must be plenty :) can work sun and mon, and qualify to purchase a volunteer ticket.

I know there are regionals that require all attendees to sign up for a volunteer shift doing something. Perhaps the org could use this as a chance to tweak and publish those policies and get a more engaged community? Then at least the 15k that got left out may be less upset, knowing that the tickets went to people who choose to work on their vacation, make cool art, or both.

that is my positive suggestion. and i was just teasing about the silicon valley thing, jeesh.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby JimGrisham » Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:36 am

Papers please?

I think some (more than would fit in a breadbox, less then half) members of our community would take issue with names linked to tickets, but the option to sell some tickets that way (perhaps the first sale) probably deserves some consideration. Even those who don't have an issue with providing your name/id to use their ticket* may want to be able to gift your ticket or their wallet may be stolen in Reno before arriving at BRC. Would we end up just letting them in anyway? Perhaps we could have a refugee camp / Hooverville form outside the city gates.

There is one idea that may help with ticket sales (in future years) that I have yet to see mentioned. Apologies if someone had already posted something similar.
 Some amount of tickets could be sold at some point as multiple person tickets. You would have to have a minimum group size, which could be as low as 2 or 3 but might be more effective if they started at 4. If you are planning on arriving with three others in one vehicle, you would purchase a four person ticket. That ticket would be one piece of paper that is not divisible(i.e. one ticket with qty 4 marked, not four tickets connected together). As these would sell at normal prices, a four-way ticket would cost upwards of $1000, which would hopefully make them less attractive to scalpers or hoarders. Additionally(but see first paragraph above), you could require at least one name printed on the ticket, which would be difficult, but not impossible to have changed. At the purchaser's request, names of some or all members of the group could be printed on the ticket. At the gate, all names listed must be identified by some means, so if I choose to purchase a four-person ticket with the names Robert F. and Jennifer S.* At the gate Jennifer could enter along with two others and Robert, if he is present.

Now you might be thinking "Jim, interesting idea, but what if I buy a six person ticket and then my minibus breaks down the day before the event. All six of us will still make it, but now we are in separate vehicles and we may not arrive at the same time." To accommodate a situation like that, if all members of a party are not present, the ticket could be punched a number of times corresponding to the number who enter. To use the remainder, the ticket could be held at will call or someone could stay behind to provide the ticket to the other vehicle. You may want to require someone from the second car to also have a name on the ticket.

Finally, if names are used, the option could be given to list multiple options (Robert F. or Jennifer S.) as is sometimes done with joint checking accounts. This could be used for single ticket sales as well and would provide some flexibility while acting as an anti-scalping measure. 

So, since no one likes a whiner who presents no possible solutions, here is my Sunday morning summary/proposal based on the above:
  - Sell multiple person group tickets as the part or all of the initial sale. Make them as flexible as possible (see below for an example).
  - Any ticket of quantity greater than four shall have preprinted names for at least 50% of the entry entitlements on that ticket.
  - Offer premium tickets with no identity requirements and no transferability restrictions in the first sale, say at $600 (or more). Just like an unrestricted or undated airline ticket of old, one pays more for more flexibility. I'm sure that there are burners of means who would have no problem paying more to get ticket-buying over with early (the difference from the normal price could be considered a tax-deductible donation to the art fund) . Limit the number of these available, perhaps 1500 for the first year, lest BRC becomes the Burner's Racketball Club.
  - Require limited identification information on each ticket, at least in the first round and at the lowest price points. Valid options would be: first name and last initial, first initial and last name, first or last name and the city listed on their unexpired government photo ID or passport, or first or last name and country listed on the ID(but exclude at least the US and Canada from this option)

  - Hopefully, something like this rough model would combat most large and small scale ticket scalping as well as make it less likely for honest people to feel the need to purchase extra tickets "just in case".

  Extereme example of multiple person ticket.
      Fertility 2.0; Black Rock City, Nevada
      (dates)
      This ticket valid for up to four people.
         Greg W., Jennifer S., Khyle of Houston, or Mike of Greece must be present for this ticket to be used.
         Any three others of their choice may enter at the same time.
         If one of the above persons cannot be present, an original, unexpired government photo ID or passport must be presented containing the First name and secondary identifier(last initial, city of residence, or country of residence for countries other than the United States and Canada) of one of the above persons.
         If all four entries are not used at one time, one of the above named persons must be present when the remainder of the group arrives.
         Writing a name in pen on the reverse of this ticket makes one entry of this ticket non-transferable for each name written.

I didn't have time to write a short post so I wrote a long one instead. Thanks for reading this far.

In community,

 Jim Grisham

* Privacy issues:
    - First, a short story. I was visiting a school for the gifted in Prague about eight years ago. The school had affiliated with the social and educational organization Mensa international, and many, if not all, of the students were members as well. At one point I asked the Principal if he knew how many adult Czechs were members of that origination, and I was told that there wasn't really an adult chapter in the republic. He explained that after decades of experiencing the result of German and Soviet influence most adults were extremely hesitant to voluntarily be put on any sort of list.

    - To address privacy concerns, names need not be retained if they are printed on the tickets. As in the example above, shortened names (George B. or even George of Texas) would still identify the intended user while still being a barrier to scalping.

    - If requiring identification, accept unexpired government photo ID for the listed name even if they are not present. I'll lend a buddy my passport if I get sick and let them attend in my place. I'm sure some scalpers might enter the fake ID business in this case, but then they would be violating criminal law and could more easily be shut down.

P.S. There have got to be some economist burners out there - it couldn't hurt to ask for their opinion, with the understanding that they may be busy people who probably don't read this forum.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby theCryptofishist » Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:53 am

JimGrisham wrote:P.S. There have got to be some economist burners out there - it couldn't hurt to ask for their opinion, with the understanding that they may be busy people who probably don't read this forum.

There are apparently any number of burners who have taken economics 101, and they've been quite vocal...
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby yellfireinatheater » Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:40 pm

@ jim- i like the idea of not having to put your full name, just first with last initial or first with the city on your ID. excellent compromise for privacy. however i think the group tickets would be very complicated. not saying it couldn't work, but it would be very complicated. why couldn't we just transfer names on tickets through step? if tickets weren't printed/mailed till july this seems like it would be super easy. do-able after tickets are mailed, but not quite as hassle-free. people would have to mail their tickets back no later then 5 days before the event and then the buyer could just pick it up at will call. i know this something a lot of people are proposing, i just think this is the simplest way to solve the issues. true we wouldn't be able to gift tickets to specific people but a small price to pay.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby bradtem » Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:01 pm

There is no point in putting names (or better, faces) on tickets if you can transfer them through a system like STEP. The whole point of having a face tied to a ticket is to block transfer.

On the other hand, the point of group tickets is to allow a limited form of transfer when you have blocked other forms of transfer. The idea is, you can get tickets with no face on them, as long as they come in with the person who bought them. Since professional scalpers are not going to drive all the way to Burning Man just to escort their customers in -- well, not without a pretty huge premium and a lot of inconvenience -- this is not a tool open to the scalper, but is available to the burner who wants to get tickets for unspecified friends and campmates.

There are two negatives to non-transferable tickets. The first is any extra work processing them at the gate, though with the right technology that can be minimized. The second is the blocking of what we might call "legitimate transfers" which can range from having campmates who might change to "I have a different boyfriend now than when I bought the tickets."

In the world of a lottery, there is an interesting question about whether there are many legitimate transfers. Getting a ticket for an unspecified campmate means that somebody else, a very specific person who entered the lottery, lost out. Is it more important that you be able to get a ticket for somebody you can't identify in January if it means other Burners won't get to go at all? The idea of the group ticket is to allow you to do this, but only with people who are so close to you that they will actually arrive with you. But not to let you order a ticket for an unspecified friend. And it also means that if your plans change, you don't get to hand out the ticket to somebody else -- it's not your decision. Rather you must return the ticket to whoever is first in line on the waiting list; the idea being that the person first in the waiting list is more deserving of that ticket than the random person who answered your query on facebook or craigslist, even at face value.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby motskyroonmatick » Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:52 pm

I'm plenty skilled at coming up with complicated and elaborate ways to fix problems. I've realized that fixing problems with complex bureaucratic or physical systems results in a horribly pain in the ass system to maintain and operate.
I'd like to see the problems that have arisen from ticket scarcity dealt with by having more tickets available. This deals with scarcity in the most direct way possible. I believe that extending the duration of the event by several days and burning the man one day earlier will have a dramatic impact on entering and exiting traffic which apparently is issue number 1 to expanding the event. It has been said that expanding the event this year is off the table. Without knowing the complexities behind that statement I would hope that position is reconsidered and work is done toward bringing expanding the event back on to the table.

These are things that I think have merit to the end of helping our event expand and therefor reduce scarcity. The primary issue I am attempting to address is good traffic flow which directly relates to the BLM stated goal that safety is their highest priority. Apparently adequate emergency response capability of Police, Fire/Rescue and Ambulance is the top tier of of that goal.

Start the event at noon on Saturday.
The Man will burn on Friday so opening one day earlier allows the same amount of event time before the burn.
Opening at noon allows people driving in to the Gerlach area to arrive in daylight which is safer.
Opening earlier will spread out the arrival of participants because some people will logistically not be able to arrive at the new opening compared to the traditional opening one day later.
This puts the bulk of arriving traffic on the road during the weekend which conflicts less with peak week day commercial and commute traffic.

Burn the Man on Friday and the Temple on Saturday.
Moving the burns up one day allows more time for exodus allowing participants to experience both burns and leave on Sunday. This will increase the number of participants staying for both burns which is a social positive for the community.

End the event on Tuesday.
This allows a second extra day for major Exodus to occur and will allow those with the option to time their Exodus to low volume times decreasing outbound vehicular traffic.

The drawbacks to these ideas that I see involve higher expense to hold the event and the need for more staff/volunteers to cover 24/7 event wide operations.

Ticket prices would have to be raised to cover the expenses of a longer duration event. It is obvious that on the average people will pay more per ticket to enter Burning Man. Charge higher prices continuing to retain or expand the low income(with documentation) program.
The various departments that operate to support the city during the event would need to expand to deal with the longer event by recruiting and training more staff and volunteers. This would be a challenge but it could be overcome with the current volunteer recruitment process in place and if necessary increasing volunteer perks for positions not easily filled.

I think the most easy to accomplish method to deal with scarcity is to increase capacity. It is difficult to add new systems to the mix and that is why I propose tweaking what we already have in place. Changing the dates of the burns and the duration of the event are things that would not be extraordinarily hard for the participants or the ORG to adapt to. I would like to see the event expanded so as a community we can avoid having to exclude people who want to participate no matter who they may be. Most of all I would like a decrease in demand through more availability so that there is less Burner against Burner competition. We should be a united force of good will and good works for the Burn and beyond. When we scrap with each other over tickets, fairness, who should Burn and who shouldn't burn we go backwards. Eliminating scarcity will help us move forward.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby Colonel Monk » Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:40 pm

Very interesting points on tickets...

Can I ask what might be a stupid question? Why can't they change the tickets to be NON-Transferrable THIS YEAR? Why wait?

It's still 6 months before people need the tickets in hand, so seems like they could easily change the terms right now, and demand that any transferring of tickets shall occur thru the STEP program at face value or as BradTem has mentioned, do the transfer thru refund and resale process, eliminating the chance for scalping...

No, this doesn't fix the supply problem, but it sure would make us all feel alot better to know that the scalper/speculators' hands were tied and they basically would have to forfeit their tickets back to the borg so that WE can buy them.

Let's do it!
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby bradtem » Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:55 pm

Once again, a STEP program that allows transfer (rather than refund) does not make tickets get sold at face value. No system that allows transfer can do this, because the scalper just says, "Give me $500 and I will sell you a ticket at face value in the STEP program for an additional $290." Sure it's breaking the rules -- it's already breaking the rules.

The only way I know of to assure tickets are not sold far above face value is tickets that can't be transferred at all, only returned for refund. Only if you can't promise who the ticket is going to can you prevent extra money flowing by alternate channels. Perhaps with a program that made people swear they were not doing it you could catch some scalpers and sue them, but that' s expensive and may not even be that effective.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby Colonel Monk » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:51 pm

bradtem wrote:Once again, a STEP program that allows transfer (rather than refund) does not make tickets get sold at face value. No system that allows transfer can do this, because the scalper just says, "Give me $500 and I will sell you a ticket at face value in the STEP program for an additional $290." Sure it's breaking the rules -- it's already breaking the rules.

The only way I know of to assure tickets are not sold far above face value is tickets that can't be transferred at all, only returned for refund. Only if you can't promise who the ticket is going to can you prevent extra money flowing by alternate channels. Perhaps with a program that made people swear they were not doing it you could catch some scalpers and sue them, but that' s expensive and may not even be that effective.


OK, but the thing that completely doesn't work with your argument is that I have no effing ticket. So if the system does not allow any kind of transfer then those of us without a ticket cannot get a ticket.

If I had one I'd be inclined to agree with you, because I don't ever plan on NOT going to the event.

Anyway, I don't give a shit how they do it - whether it's resale or not. There should be some kind of option.

It's worth reiterating that we might not even be talking about this if they only allowed one ticket per registrant. I've read enough today to hear that many couples put in for two tickets each and were awarded both pairs - so there are alot of ticket hoarders out there that prevented some of us getting the ONE ticket we requested. That sucks. So if most of the 10,000 left go to theme camps (another speculation) then the STEP is my only hope. I will not do business with a scalper. As said before I'll hang glide or tunnel into BRC before I ever pay a premium to some scumbag for a ticket.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby bradtem » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:59 pm

To be clear, there are two different approaches (at least.)

With transferable tickets, people sell (or gift) their tickets to friends, campmates and strangers whom they find via web-sites and social networks. They may do so at face value, or quite commonly at market prices (which are much higher) though this is disdained. Under this system if you don't have a ticket you get it either by knowing the right people, being lucky enough to be the first to respond to a face value offer, or more commonly, by paying market price to a burner or scalper.

With non-transferable tickets, people can simply return their tickets to the pool for a (face value or less) refund. There, the tickets are sold again to buyers on a waiting list, at face value. Under this system if you don't have a ticket you get on the waiting list, and have the same chance as anybody else under whatever system the waiting list is run under. No tickets sell for more than face value.

With the multi-person ticket option, a third strategy is possible, namely that tickets can exist that only work if you enter Burning Man in the company of the master ticket holder. In this case, people are able to get friends and campmates in, but it's much harder to arrange strangers in and very hard for scalpers. What the master ticket holder charges is up to them, it can be market price or face value, but since it's among friends there is pressure that it be face value.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby Ninjaparamedic » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:34 am

I have a several simple ideas for next year that I haven't seen posted elsewhere:
Complete Low income ticketing prior to main sale
Make the qualifications for low income/hardship more specific
Reinstate ticket scholarships
Have STEP operational prior to the end of main ticket sales next year
Consider expanding low income ticketing and creating 1 constant ticket price

For this year I've seen hundreds of posts about requiring ID and only 3 or 4 about requiring confirmation numbers or credit card numbers. Wouldn't this significantly cut down on scalping/price gouging without the need to check ID at the gate?
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby hackrobat » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:10 am

I have one point that should be brought up concerning the notion that we can't make tickets non-transferable due to the fact that someone may want to gift someone a ticket:

That only works when tickets aren't scarce. If someone has "extra" tickets that they bought in case they wanted to gift it to someone closer to the event date, then that means that someone has a ticket that they are not currently using and could better be given to someone who is prepared to go right now and just needs a ticket. If you expect people to gift tickets, then you're expecting tickets with no owners, and if you're keeping that policy in place then you're just encouraging people to sit on tickets instead of distributing them to the community where the demand is. Which would be counter to the sentiment of both BMorg and the community in that they want extra tickets to get to people that want to go right now and want to start making plans.

Seems like that is the largest flaw that I can find with BMorg's official reason for not printing a name on a ticket.

Hell, you don't even need to check every name with every id. Just say that you're going to check everyone and then have the gate randomly check 1 car in every 50. If people see the rule clearly stated on the webiste, they'll act the way you want them to without even having to enforce it 100% if that addition of logistical complexity could prevent its acceptance as a solution.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby Eric » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:23 am

Ninjaparamedic wrote:I have a several simple ideas for next year that I haven't seen posted elsewhere:
Complete Low income ticketing prior to main sale


Low income are specifically done after the main sale as they are only for people who couldn't make it any other way. Awarding them before the main sale would cause people to try to game the system, as opposed to them going to people who really need them.


Consider expanding low income ticketing


This was already done this year. There are 4,000 low income tickets available.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby Colonel Monk » Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:31 am

bradtem wrote:To be clear, there are two different approaches (at least.)

With transferable tickets, people sell (or gift) their tickets to friends, campmates and strangers whom they find via web-sites and social networks. They may do so at face value, or quite commonly at market prices (which are much higher) though this is disdained. Under this system if you don't have a ticket you get it either by knowing the right people, being lucky enough to be the first to respond to a face value offer, or more commonly, by paying market price to a burner or scalper.

With non-transferable tickets, people can simply return their tickets to the pool for a (face value or less) refund. There, the tickets are sold again to buyers on a waiting list, at face value. Under this system if you don't have a ticket you get on the waiting list, and have the same chance as anybody else under whatever system the waiting list is run under. No tickets sell for more than face value.

With the multi-person ticket option, a third strategy is possible, namely that tickets can exist that only work if you enter Burning Man in the company of the master ticket holder. In this case, people are able to get friends and campmates in, but it's much harder to arrange strangers in and very hard for scalpers. What the master ticket holder charges is up to them, it can be market price or face value, but since it's among friends there is pressure that it be face value.


I think your ideas are sound. There's no reason that they couldn't use wireless scanners at the gate, and validate via ID or credit card or what have you...

The return ticket thing is viable, but it sucks that you can't get a ticket from someone you know. But then again, if it kills off scalping I'm for it.

Not sure I agree with the tiered ticket thing at this point - vying for a tier 1 ticket this year got me a much smaller chance of getting one which I didn't realize when I did it - :roll:

So what do so about this system? Or rather, how to deal with the scarcity problem? And in the terms of the OP's positive suggestions....

I still think the FCFS ticket system is the most fair at this point, in that it did not let me down in previous years. Seems we can't have paper tix and have this work, so we need to go to a non-transferable ticket scenario.

Lottery? OK, if it's got to be lottery I think that our veteran status should count for something. Until this year I never thought I wouldn't go there each year. Now some cute videos have the world at large thinking it's Disneyland, and they bum-rushed the tickets. So I'm thinking, that Radical Inclusion should need to operate under some stricter guidelines. Perhaps the lion's share of the tickets (like 40 K) go to veteran burners and 20% (10K) are available to newbs to purchase to see if they like it.

I really wasn't that worried - I registered at 10:03 the day they opened registration, and I answered truthfully that I thought the system would work. Boy was I wrong.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby bradtem » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:30 am

Colonel Monk wrote:The return ticket thing is viable, but it sucks that you can't get a ticket from someone you know. But then again, if it kills off scalping I'm for it.



This is the central question. Does this indeed suck? Because as it turns out that while non-transferable tickets to lock scalpers out of the market, they also make it much for difficult for a group of people to request many more tickets in the lottery than they need. These two factors (Scalpers and over-requesters) are the main reason you don't have a ticket right now and may not get one.

Why should "I happen to be friends with somebody who did win the lottery" be the criteria under which one gets a ticket. Why does it suck if this is not the criteria? Obviously from your standpoint, your friend is a great choice for the extra ticket you ordered. But when you won it, you deprived other people of the ability to go. From the community's standpoint, why is your friend a better choice than the person at the head of the waiting list? Or why is some stranger you found on craigslist a better choice?

Right now, the camps that entered the lottery 2x or 3x times to assure themselves of tickets and thus have everybody going are being silent. They don't want to admit they did this, because they're a big part of why you aren't going. I wonder what they would do if they were told they can't sell or gift their extras, only return them.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:44 am

Colonel Monk wrote:OK, if it's got to be lottery I think that our veteran status should count for something.

Oh, you are just so special that my heart is breaking...

No, wait, it isn't.

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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby ygmir » Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:48 am

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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby Max Callahan » Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:18 pm

Colonel Monk wrote:I still think the FCFS ticket system is the most fair at this point, in that it did not let me down in previous years. Seems we can't have paper tix and have this work, so we need to go to a non-transferable ticket scenario.


The problem is that this year is not previous years. Last year sold out and that changes everyones approach to getting tickets.
This year saw 120,000 attempts to get 40,000 tickets, and be they from virgins, scalpers or vets putting in multiple entries to increase their chances of getting picked, that level of demand would still be present in a first come first served sale.

Imagine 120,000 hits vs inticketting given how bad last year melted down. First come first serve would have let us down also.
While I think the lottery could have been run better (which is an entire other rant), at least in the lottery they could make an attempt to scrub the list for scalpers, in first come first serve what is their to in any way stop scalpers? (not that i necessarily think scalpers are the problem this year, the data is too thin to determine, but the perception of not having done enough vs scalpers is definitely a problem)


Edit: I realize I haven't put in a positive solution, and this is the positive solution thread, so here goes.
A lot of concern with any sort of named non transferable tickets is we'll slow the gate and traffic will back up onto the 447. I've spent a lot of time staring at the playa on google maps (I'm ocd what can i say) and it looks like there is enough playa between the pavement and the city to put in an entire nother city, there should be enough space to park every single vehicle that ends up in the city south of the gates if we put in enough holding lanes. Not more active gates mind you, just more lanes to stash cars in. Combine this with a surging system like we have for exodus and we can make entry work even if we end up with 7 hour entries like we had with last years 7 hour exodus.
Also, please please please set up to surge entry, 3 hours of creep forward 10 feet every 1-2 minutes was hellish, 7 hours of exodus, even in the mid day sun was tolerable, and at times even pleasant since I knew I could stop the car, get out stretch, talk to people, hit the potties, and generally loiter.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby Colonel Monk » Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:29 pm

bradtem wrote:
Colonel Monk wrote:The return ticket thing is viable, but it sucks that you can't get a ticket from someone you know. But then again, if it kills off scalping I'm for it.



This is the central question. Does this indeed suck? Because as it turns out that while non-transferable tickets to lock scalpers out of the market, they also make it much for difficult for a group of people to request many more tickets in the lottery than they need. These two factors (Scalpers and over-requesters) are the main reason you don't have a ticket right now and may not get one.

Why should "I happen to be friends with somebody who did win the lottery" be the criteria under which one gets a ticket. Why does it suck if this is not the criteria? Obviously from your standpoint, your friend is a great choice for the extra ticket you ordered. But when you won it, you deprived other people of the ability to go. From the community's standpoint, why is your friend a better choice than the person at the head of the waiting list? Or why is some stranger you found on craigslist a better choice?

Right now, the camps that entered the lottery 2x or 3x times to assure themselves of tickets and thus have everybody going are being silent. They don't want to admit they did this, because they're a big part of why you aren't going. I wonder what they would do if they were told they can't sell or gift their extras, only return them.


Good Points. For the record (literal "you") I don't have a ticket. I didn't really give it a second though (or even a first) to game the system, because I've never had trouble getting one and wasn't really paying attention to the news here on eplaya.

Yeah, really, you're selling me on the nicht transferable idea from the standpoint of gaming the system. It *should* cut down on that. On one of the links here to the news story regarding how the last 10K might go to theme camps, some douchbag who admitted to gaming the system with his wife and getting 4 tickets whined that he was pissed that the borg might charge a restocking fee for the extras. I don't know where he was getting that, but so what? If you buy more than you need when you were asked not to overbuy then consider the extra expense insurance. When I book a plane flight and I'm not sure I can use the ticket I pay $20 for the travel insurance so that I can get a refund if I can't go - no big deal.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby Colonel Monk » Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:44 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:
Colonel Monk wrote:OK, if it's got to be lottery I think that our veteran status should count for something.

Oh, you are just so special that my heart is breaking...

No, wait, it isn't.

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Hah, whatever...... it's not that I'm special. ('cept my mommy told me so)

But there is a serious problem on the horizon for anyone that wants to attend this event each and every year. Not enough tickets.

So tell me crypto, are you really OK with hoards of newbs who saw some Dr Seuss fantasy video and decided to come to Bman getting all the tickets, thus forcing you to stay home? Do you go every year? Did you get a ticket this year?

If you don't go every year OR you have your ticket for this year, then you don't really know what I'm feeling. If you do go every year, don't have your ticket, and still feel fine with the ticket situation then I guess you're a rare breed of fishy, because I think most people here are feeling like I am right now about this situation.

Far from giving up. I have a team of mexican drug smugglers tunneling into BRC as we speak. We are going to make a killing on our tunnel "toll".....
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby Colonel Monk » Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:56 pm

Max Callahan wrote:Edit: I realize I haven't put in a positive solution, and this is the positive solution thread, so here goes.
A lot of concern with any sort of named non transferable tickets is we'll slow the gate and traffic will back up onto the 447. I've spent a lot of time staring at the playa on google maps (I'm ocd what can i say) and it looks like there is enough playa between the pavement and the city to put in an entire nother city, there should be enough space to park every single vehicle that ends up in the city south of the gates if we put in enough holding lanes. Not more active gates mind you, just more lanes to stash cars in. Combine this with a surging system like we have for exodus and we can make entry work even if we end up with 7 hour entries like we had with last years 7 hour exodus.
Also, please please please set up to surge entry, 3 hours of creep forward 10 feet every 1-2 minutes was hellish, 7 hours of exodus, even in the mid day sun was tolerable, and at times even pleasant since I knew I could stop the car, get out stretch, talk to people, hit the potties, and generally loiter.


Comment on the tickets.....and positive.

While some fools will arrive without their ID or Credit Card at the ready, so too do people forget tickets and/or can't remember where they packed them.

We need to be familiar with the scanner technology which exists today - really, they can scan the bar code on a ticket, and have the scanner pop up your name and DL# or something to be quickly checked against your ticket. When would this occur? Well IME at the gate there is always a pair, and one of them is searching your vehicle while the other is outside getting tickets - I really don't think it should be that big an issue.

Exodus doesn't need to be as bad as is. I haven't left the playa before Tuesday in 3 years, and since the two years prior I never made it past Reno anyway it just seems pointless for the whole city to leave on Monday. Having said that, I know that the org would like everyone to peel out early as possible, but having accidents on the highway and all it's not worth it. I left on Wednesday last year and there was still so many people - Wednesday the year prior there was almost nobody left.

So while the event must end at some point, I think that allowing people to linger for a few days (and even suggesting it when the roads are terrible, like last year) can really help make Exodus safer. One of the keys however, is to make sure that all big camps are completely shut down monday night. It only makes it safer if people are resting up to leave the playa!
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby Max Callahan » Mon Feb 13, 2012 4:02 pm

Last year I got into the line to leave at noon on monday, the worst time possible I realize, only after I was in line did I think to hit the radio, and the radio was saying "The gate tells us to tell you to not leave the city, if you possibly can, stay until tomorrow", so the option is on the table, it just needs to get more press.
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Re: Positive Suggestions for Fixing What Is Obviously Broken

Postby bradtem » Mon Feb 13, 2012 4:21 pm

Once again, people keep saying we would want to have to put our name on tickets and show ID to get in. And then they worry that it will take time to show your ID. Indeed it will.

That's why you don't use ID. You don't use your name. You use your face. With ID, you have to get out your ID, the checker has to read your name, they have to look at your ID, they have to confirm the name matches, they look at the face on the ID, they look to see if your face matches. They look again at the ID to be sure it's not a fake. Lots of work.

With faces it's simple. They scan the ticket. They look at the face on the screen. They look at you. If you match, they let you in. It's actually *faster* than having to check a paper ticket for authenticity, to check the serial number to see if it's not one of the known fakes. No ID needed. No name needed. Just "do you look like the jpeg that the buyer uploaded when they bought the ticket." No will call. Done ideally they have your face on the screen before the car even rolls up, because they typed in or scanned your licence plate or got a bluetooth signal from your phone before you pulled up. (They don't have to type in your whole plate, just perhaps 3 letters of it -- not the state -- and if there is more than one plate it shows the few plates that match. If you don't come in that car, they scan your ticket.)

This doesn't even have to be online, except to sync up last minute changes once a day. Unless you are really worried about a lot of identical twins sneaking in, then you need it to be online. Not that online is hard, there is wifi at the gate. Doesn't need to be online to the outside world to cancel the ticket of identical twins.
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